The Delta State government on Tuesday said that it did not pay N500 million as ransom for the release of Ebikeme Clark, son of elder statesman, Edwin Clark.
It was reacting to allegations by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, on Monday, that Ebikeme colluded with the Delta State Police Command to fool Nigerians and that the sum of N500 million ransom was paid by the state government to fund the cleverly orchestrated kidnap.
In a statement issued by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, MEND said the ransom, which was paid from the security votes of the Delta State government, was later shared among all those who participated in the scam.
However, the secretary to the state government, Ovuozorie Macaulay, said the state government did not pay any ransom as claimed by MEND, as there was nothing special about the victim to warrant its paying money for his release.
“The Delta State Government wishes to state categorically that it did not part with any money as ransom for the release of Mr. Ebikeme Clark. The state government has had previous cases of high profile kidnappings where the victims had been kept much longer than Ebikeme. The government did not pay any ransom,” the statement said.
It further said that MEND was only out to blackmail not just the state government, but also Clark and the amnesty programme of the Federal Government.
“The Delta State Government wishes to advise those still hiding under the umbrella of MEND, that the tactics of blackmail, falsehood, rumour mongering and intimidation in the region are gone,” it added.
In its statement, MEND had said that the young man’s kidnap “was actually a cleverly orchestrated fraud masterminded by Ebikeme. A ransom of N500Million was paid by the Delta State Government from its security vote and was shared amongst all those involved in this scam.”
“Mr. Ebikeme is following in the footsteps of his father where the Senior Clark is amongst those that hatched the fraudulent Niger Delta Amnesty Programme which has only made billionaires of a few thugs and him, at the detriment of millions of impoverished indigenes and the peace and security in the region,” it said further.
It said the ‘phantom’ kidnap was arranged by the victim in a desperate bid for relevance and the need for extra funds to maintain his private jet.
“It is rather unfortunate that in a desperate bid for relevance and extra funds to maintain a private jet, certain unscrupulous persons, including the Delta State Police will conspire to deceive Nigerians with a phantom abduction, release of the so-called hostage, influence over kidnappers and arrest of suspects and denying the payment of a ransom which has already been shared,” MEND stated.
Ebikeme, who was kidnapped on April 2 in Brutu local government area of Delta and later released last Sunday at the Kiagbodo waterside, called the allegation “baseless”.
“MEND is dead. Nigeria must move forward. The problem we have now is Boko Haram, not MEND. Those are tricks and a baseless allegation from a faceless and dead group.”